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Visitor Activities

Mourning Dove

There are a lot of things to see and do at McNary NWR—and we hope you’ll come to see and do them.

  • Wildlife Observation & Photography

    Lazuli Bunting

    McNary NWR is a birdwatcher's paradise. More than 200 species of birds frequent the refuge, attracted by a diverse range of habitats. Large concentrations of migrating waterfowl can be seen from October through February, usually peaking in December. Many songbirds find food and cover along the west end of Burbank Slough and the nature trail and within the riparian forests along the Walla Walla, Snake and Columbia Rivers. Visitors may also see red-tailed, sharp-shinned, and Cooper's hawks, and northern harriers. Peregrine falcons are occasionally seen, particularly in the basalt cliffs in the Wallula Gap Unit. Bald and golden eagles can be seen in the late winter months of January through March. Visitors can view wildlife at the Environmental Education Center, nature trail and bird blind, and informally from all of the roads and trails open on the refuge. The Wallula Delta, where shorebirds congregate during migration, is extremely popular. The Wallula Unit also attracts people looking for deer, riparian birds, and shorebirds. Bighorn sheep and raptors can be seen at the Stateline/Juniper Canyon Units.

  • Hiking & Horseback Riding

    Desert Trail

    Horseback riding and hiking is permitted on roads and designated trails. There are two four-mile-long trails designated for horseback riding. One is located on the Wallula Unit and follows the Walla Walla River on the north side upstream from Madam Dorian Park. The other horse riding trail is located on the Peninsula Unit and follows the river shoreline. Hiking is permitted on the designated horse trails, but hikers must yield to horses. Hikers preferring an upland experience are welcome to explore Juniper Canyon off of State Highway 730/395 in Oregon. There is no maintained trail in the Canyon but plenty of opportunity to explore. Please note that on the McNary Fee Hunt Unit, the public hunt area, is closed to all public entry out of hunting season.

  • Nature Trail

    Hiking

    A two-mile self-guided interpretive trail and bird blind for observation and photography is easily accessed from the McNary Environmental Education Center and winds around Burbank Slough. A nature trail brochure is available, and interpretive signs are situated along the trail. Approximately the first 1,800 feet of the nature trail, to and inside the bird blind, is paved and wheelchair accessible.

  • Environmental Education

    Boy With Monarch Butterfly

    McNary is fortunate to have an Education Center (not to be confused with a Visitor Center) and a host of volunteers to help run an education program. See the For Educators page for more information.

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  • Boating

    Canoeing

    Three boat launches are available on the refuge. The boat launches are provided solely for boating associated with fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing/photography and education. Motors are only permitted on those waters which are accessible to the Columbia River. One boat launch is a large concrete ramp at the southern end of the Peninsula Unit, which allows boats to launch into Casey Pond and travel out into the Columbia River. The launch and parking area has capacity for approximately 30 boats with trailers or 55 cars. The boat launch is a main access to the river, but because the waters surrounding it are shallow, there are limits on the size of boats that can use this launch. The second boat launch is located at the Wallula Unit and accesses the Walla Walla River. There is also a small unimproved boat launch on the Two Rivers Unit. It is located south of Quarry Pond and west of the railroad tracks.

  • Fishing

    Chinook Salmon

    Fishing continues to be one of the most popular activities for visitors at McNary. Quarry Pond is the only location on the refuge where the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks fish. This area is especially popular with youths, families and seniors. The Walla Walla River supports a popular catfish fishery, which is open 24 hours a day for night fishing. Most of the units on the McNary NWR can be reached from Highways 12 and 395. Fishing is allowed west of these highways. On the Burbank Slough Unit, fishing is only allowed from the west shoulder of Lake Road. East of Lake Road and east of Highway 12 is closed to fishing. We allow fishing on the Wallula, Two Rivers, and Peninsula Units. Visiting hours are from sunrise to sunset. The Strawberry Island Unit is closed to all activities, including hiking, hunting and fishing. The use of boats and other flotation devices is not allowed. Fishing is by hook and line only. In addition to these refuge-specific regulations, all fishermen must obey state and federal regulations.

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  • Hunting

    Black Labrador

    The McNary National Wildlife Refuge offers hunting opportunities for waterfowl and upland birds. The Burbank Slough Fee Hunt Unit is open Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, as well as Thanksgiving and New Years Day, during the state waterfowl hunting season. There is a charge, as well as a pre-season lottery to select hunters. Ages 15 and under are free. Upland hunting is permitted free-of charge after 12 noon on hunt days. The Two Rivers and Penninsula Units are open to waterfowl and upland hunting seven days a week on a first-come, first-served basis. The Wallula Unit is also open to waterfowl and upland hunting seven days a week, first-come, first-served, during the state hunting season. See Regulations page for specific rules.

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Page Photo Credits — Mourning Dove - Chuck and Grace Bartlett, Lazuli Bunting - Gordon Warrick, Desert Trail - Bob Turitz, Hiker - MariDav, Boy With Monarch Butterfly - Ryan Hagerty, Canoeing - Lily 3, Chinook Salmon - Chuck and Grace Bartlett, Black Labrador - FWS
Last Updated: Mar 21, 2014
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